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Christiane F. (born Vera Christiane Felscherinow on May 20, 1962) is a former heroin addict famous for her contribution to the autobiographical book , and the film based on the book, which describes her struggle with various forms of drug addiction during her teens.

Early life

Christiane was born in Hamburgmarker, but her family moved to West Berlin when she was a child. They settled in Gropiusstadt, a dreary neighborhood in Neuköllnmarker consisting mainly of high-rise concrete apartment blocks where social problems were prevalent. Christiane's father frequently had a violent temper, drank heavily and raged at his family, and her parents eventually divorced. When she was 12 years old, she began smoking hashish with a group of friends who were slightly older, at a local youth club. They gradually began experimenting with stronger drugs, such as LSD and various forms of pills, and she ended up trying heroin. By the time she was 14, she was a junkie and prostitute, mainly at the then-largest train station of West Berlin, Bahnhof Zoomarker. Here she became part of a notorious group of teen aged drug-users and prostitutes (of both sexes).

The making of Christiane F.

The book

Two journalists from the news magazine Stern, Kai Herrmann and Horst Rieck, met Christiane in 1978 in Berlin when she was a witness in a trial against a man who paid underaged girls with heroin in return for sex. The journalists wanted to disclose the drug problem among teenagers in Berlin, which was severe but also surrounded by strong taboos. They arranged a two-hour interview with Christiane. The two hours ended up being two months, where Christiane provided an in-depth description of a life with drugs and prostitution that she and other teenagers in West Berlin experienced in the 1970s. The journalists subsequently ran a series of articles about her addiction in Stern, based on tape recorded interviews with Christiane.

The interviews were extensive, and the Stern publishing house eventually decided to publish the successful book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo in 1979. The book chronicles her life from 1975 to 1978, when she was aged 12–15. The narrative of the book is in the first person, from Christiane's viewpoint, but was written by the journalists functioning as ghostwriters. Others, such as Christiane's mother, and various people who witnessed the escalating drug situation in Berlin at the time, also contributed to the book. It depicts several of Christiane's friends along with other drug addicts, as well as scenes from typical locations of the drug scene in Berlin.

The film

In 1981, the story was made into a film directed by Uli Edel and produced by Bernd Eichinger and Hans Weth. Its title in Germany was Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, and in English-speaking countries Christiane F. The screenplay was written by Herman Weigel. Christiane worked as an advisor for the film, but did not appear in it herself. Much of the movie is shot in the authentic gloomy surroundings of Gropiusstadt and Bahnhof Zoo. David Bowie, Christiane's favorite singer at the time of the story, appears as himself in a concert. Bowie also provided the music in the movie, released on the 1981 soundtrack album Christiane F.

After Christiane F.

After the initial success of the book and the film, Christiane found herself becoming something of a celebrity, both in Germany and other countries in Western Europe. A subculture of teenage girls in Germanymarker began to emulate her style of dress as well as making visits to the Bahnhof Zoomarker station, which became an unlikely tourist attraction. This surprised experts on youth drug abuse, who feared that despite the film's bleakness and the many sordid scenes (particularly those portraying the horrific realities of cold turkey), vulnerable youths may have regarded Christiane as a cult heroine and role model. The book sold so well (it was translated into most major West European languages) that Christiane remains able to support herself from the royalties.

In the early 1980s Christiane released several records under the band-name Sentimentale Jugend in collaboration with her then-boyfriend Alexander Hacke, with whom she also appeared in the 1983 German film Decoder.

An animal-lover since early childhood, Christiane is a keen equestrian.

She lived in the USmarker and in Greecemarker, before returning to Germany in 1993. Through adulthood, Christiane has continued to struggle with drug addiction on several occasions. In 1994, she enrolled in a methadone programme, a treatment she has subsequently returned to several times. At some point, she spent time in prison for drug-related offenses. She lived with her son (born 1996) in an apartment in the Potsdam-Mittelmark area. However in 2008 she moved to Amsterdammarker with her son and reportedly fell back into drug abuse. As a consequence she has temporarily lost custody of her son, who was taken from her by the authorities during a visit in Berlin in August 2008. Christiane still receives fan-mail and is occasionally contacted by the German media, wanting to know how she is doing after all these years.

Discography

  • "Wunderbar"(1982)
  • "Gesundheit!" (12"), Posh Boy (1982)
  • "CHRISTIANA - Final Church" (Maxi-single, 1982)
  • "Wunderbar / Health Dub" (12"), Playhouse (2003)


References

External links




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